An article in The Conversation today raised my ire & had me tapping at my iPad’s virtual keyboard with furrowed brow!

The article, titled “Deep Brain Stimulation: The hidden challenges of a technological fix”, can be found here:

Below is my comment, obviously tinged with annoyance and frustration.

“This article draws invidious comparison between psychiatric illness and disorders of movement like Parkinson’s disease, perpetuating the artificial Cartesian division that has proven so detrimental to sufferers of mental disorders for centuries. DBS is not proposed to be trialled on those suffering addiction responsive to less invasive treatment approaches but to those with intractable addiction who have failed conventional treatment. The ethical & other considerations highlighted are universally applicable to proposed use of novel treatment strategies in humans, as every ethics committee would be very aware of and the author’s discussion of cost effectiveness is shallow & meaningless. Health economists have proven long ago, that psychiatric conditions predominate in tables of disease cost burden, drug addiction certainly being a massive financial burden to the community. The cost of criminal activity undertaken to support an addiction is an health cost, because criminality is a side-effect of addiction only in the presence of Prohibitionist drug policies and is rapidly eliminated in nations where decriminalisation has occurred or where addicts unresponsive to alternative approaches, are prescribed their drug of choice, supervised in administering it safely & encouraged into more intense rehabilitation via increased engagement with health providers. Switzerland’s highly successful heroin prescription program caters to 1500 intractable addicts and has been enormously cost-effective. Addiction specialists are as aware of and as cautious of new treatment technologies as any other medical researchers and operate within the same funding, ethical, oversight and governance systems as the rest of medicine & there is no evidence whatsoever of higher rates of research misconduct in this specialty as any other. DBS may or may not hold promise in addiction. That remains to be discovered by ethical & meticulous research, publication, peer review, debate, the necessity for replication & extension of studies by others & the author’s premature foray into comparisons with psychiatry’s well-known historical scandals is really neither relevant or helpful in 2013.”


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